3. Data Processing Methods

Post date: 26-Jun-2014 04:08:53

Data Processing Methods


There are three types of data processing methods namely:

  1. Manual data processing
  2. Mechanical data processing
  3. Electronic Data Processing

Manual data processing

A paper and pen are used to process in manual data processing example: Most schools in Kenya process t

heir data manually especially while admitting form 1s. As the students report, they are given a form to fill, these forms are filed by the school secretary and stored in the file cabinet- that is, if the school has 450 students, the school secretary will have those 450 files to handle thus retrieve, store, manipulate and update information which is a tedious job. therefore manual data processing can also be defined as the physical entering and organization of data


Mechanical data processing

In mechanical data processing, data is processed with different mechanical devices. This can include typewriters and calculators


Electronic Data Processing

Electronic Data Processing (EDP) can refer to the use of automated methods to process commercial data. This means that, data processing, retrieval, storage, manipulation, sorting and part of analysis is done through automated methods using devices like computers.


Computer Files

A file can be defined as a collection of related records that give a complete set of information about a certain item or entity.

A computer file is a resource for storing information, which is available to a computer program and is usually based on some kind of durable storage.

Advantages of computerized/electronic filing system

  1. Ease of access.
  2. Speed of access.
  3. Increased search facilities.
  4. Capability to store huge amounts of information in a small space.
  5. Portability - a pen drive or disc enables you to transport enormous amounts of data easily and discreetly.
  6. Access to data can be monitored and/or restricted. thus enhancing data security
  7. Its easier to update and modify information
  8. Enhances data integrity and reduces duplication

Disadvantages of computerized/electronic filing system

  1. Electrical/Electronic failure can cause temporary suspension of business or permanent loss of data.
  2. Portability - copied information can be easily hidden on a disc or pen drive.
  3. Data is not always secured by correct monitoring of access.
  4. Information can be permanently deleted in error.
  5. Hacking can release information that is data protected.
  6. Cost of installing system.

Elements of a Computer File

A computer file is made up of three elements namely:

  1. Characters
  2. Fields
  3. Records


A character refers to a letter, number or symbol that can be entered, stored and output by a computer. This is the smallest element in a computer file.


A field is a single character or a collection of characters that represent a single entity


fields and records


A record is a collection of related fields that represent a single entity.

Classification of Computer files

Computer files are classified as:

  1. Logical files
  2. Physical files

Logical Files

This is computer file viewed in terms of what data items it contains and details of what processing operations may be performed on the data items. It does not have implementation specific information like field and data types, size and file types.

Physical Files

This is a computer file viewed in terms of how data is stored on a storage media and how the processing operations are made possible. They have specific details such as characters per field and data type for each field.


  1. State the three types of data processing methods
  2. Define a computer file and state three advantages and three disadvantages of computer files
  3. Define: (i) Character (ii) field (iii) record
  4. Explain the two classifications of computer files
  5. Distinguish between a manual file and a computer file
  6. List at least three equipments used during mechanical data processing methods for processing
  7. Why is a computer file described as 'durable'?

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